The virtue of sticking it out at old (established) media and marketing companies

“Quit.”

That’s what Christie Hefner, CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc., told a convention of new marketers to do if their aging bosses didn’t “get” social media last week at the Forrester Consumer Forum on social media and branding in Chicago.

Get your resume out on the street, she advised.

If they haven’t seen the writing on the wall yet, you won’t be able to change their mind.

Her remark drew a laugh, and the lively room of new media advertisers and marketers (with titles such as “digital strategist” and “engagement officer”) smiled at each other in the confidence that they “get it.” But here’s why they were wrong.

If a CEO or aging marketing exec doesn’t “get it,” they’re probably on the way out

After Hefner finished her speech I spoke with a couple of account directors from Whittmanhart in Chicago. Hefner’s main point, they noted, makes sense given her position: don’t align yourselves with those who shun social media. But it doesn’t necessarily hold true for young hires.

Trusted brands don’t sprout overnight. From a media perspective, magazines are a perfect example. While plenty of them are struggling with their print editions, it may make sense to stick with them. After those aging marketing executives take their leave, it may prove easier to open up their brand and their platform than to establish brand equity in a startup from scratch..

My favorite example is Ebony, which has struggled to define itself online. But what brand has more equity than Ebony? For those wishing their companies would “embrace social media,” moving to a startup or latching onto something less-established might provide short term relief, but sticking it out could pay off in other ways.

 Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research Inc.

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